Late spring is jam and jelly season at AnswerLine. We get lots of calls this time of year from folks wondering what went wrong. I’ve listed some of the more common problems and their causes for jam and jelly.
Sugar crystals in my jelly:
- You may have used more sugar than the recipe listed.
- There might have been undissolved grains of sugar on the sides of the pan that washed into the jelly while ladling into the jars.
- Overcooking the jam or jelly by cooking too long.
- Doubling or tripling the batch.
- Crystals could be tartrate crystals—these are found in grape juice that has not been allowed to settle and strained.
Bubbles in my jelly:
- Trapped air in the jelly—remember to skim foam before filling jars.
- Fill jars quickly to prevent partial gelling before jars are filled.
- Bubbles may be an indication of spoiling. If the bubbles are moving discard.
Jam or Jelly did not set:
- You may have overcooked the fruit while extracting the juice or used too much water in this part of the process.
- You may not have measured the ingredients accurately—or doubled the recipe.
- You may not have cooked the jam or jelly quite long enough.
- You may have moved the jam or jelly before it had a chance to set up in the jars.
- Or, the jam or jelly may need several weeks to set up properly.
Jam or Jelly seems to be weeping:
- There may be extra acid in the juice that made the pectin unstable.
- You may be storing the jam or jelly in a place that is too warm.
My Jam or Jelly seems to be darker than I expected:
- You may have boiled the jam or jelly too long or cooked it too slowly.
- The jam or jelly may have been stored in a place that is too hot
My Jelly is cloudy:
- You may have used fruit that is under ripe.
- You may have squeezed the juice bag while straining the juice from the fruit. Just let the juice drip out next time.
- You may have waited too long to place the jam or jelly in the jar. Ladle it into jars before it begins to set up.
My Jam or Jelly is too stiff:
- You may have overcooked the jam or jelly.
- The fruit you used may have too much pectin in it—remember to use ripe fruit.
Remember to call us for directions to remake jams or jellies that do not gel properly. We love to be able help.